Meet the already prominent Czech animation director who came to present her first feature film “My Afghan Family”. The story, adapted from the novel. Freshta by Petra Prochazkova, tells a woman of Czech origin who comes to settle in Afghanistan with Nazir, her future husband. Through this love story, the director accomplishes the feat of debunking certain stereotypes about Afghan society… In theaters Wednesday!
Désirée de Lamarzelle: How would you summarize your animated film?
Micaela Pavlatov: It is the story of a European woman, in this case Czech, who finds herself immersed in Afghan society following her husband to his country. With her we discover a new universe, a new culture -very patriarchal- in which there are fewer differences than one might think. If there are cultural differences, we find at the same time many points in common, intrinsic to family life.
Well, for my part, I believe that everyone aspires to have a good life, that is, without problems. Each family has to manage their own daily problems, but in certain conditions it is more complicated. In Afghanistan as in other places, society wants to live without conflict, without worrying about politics: it does not want war! Now, I’m still a foreigner, so I’m not always the best person to talk about it, but I think the film is about seeing each person as an individual and not judging them as belonging to a country.
Why choose animation?
Because animation can talk about very different topics. Surprisingly, drawing animation simplifies, compared to acting, as much as it amplifies certain details that I can focus on: animation primarily serves as a magnifying glass. For example, it’s easier to show extreme violence or sex or even death through animation, because it’s not real and leaves more room for the imagination… much more so than a movie or a documentary. Finally, it allows to say many things. And finally because it is my tool, in which I feel better to express myself.
This look that the West, as benevolent as it is clumsy, has on the East is well embodied in the American NGO…
Yes, it is a sometimes paradoxical situation because, while humanitarian organizations on the ground know that things take time to evolve, certain stereotypes persist in their minds, often crystallized by the burqa. However, it is also difficult to tell people what to do. Men should be educated instead of deciding for Afghan women.
The situation has become much worse for women since the Taliban took power. Did you keep any links there?
I didn’t go there but I had some contacts that I had with those who recorded the voices and who work in the Afghan studio: they are devastated. Most stayed behind and I am worried about them. I met an Afghan woman in the United States who liked the film very much and she became an ardent supporter of the film which she feels is necessary. We have to talk about them.
As a director, is it important to give women a voice?
Sometimes you have to fight twice as much as men to be visible in a society where money and responsibilities are more easily entrusted to men. Maintenant, il ya beaucoup de femmes cinéastes dans le long métrage d’animation… I thought that if you once had a vision and that you had lived in Afghanistan or dans certains pays comme la Corée du Nord, you once toutes les chances de faire lo what do you want.
What are your plans after the release of “My Afghan Family”?
I would like to do an animated feature film again, this time with a more personal story where I would talk, not without humour, about the world of women. But it is still under consideration.
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